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5 suspects arrested for truck attacks in South Africa

Five people have been arrested in connection with the recent spate of attacks on commercial trucks in the South African provinces of Kwa-Zulu Natal, Mpumalanga, and Limpopo, according to Police Minister Bheki Cele.

In an interview with eNCA, the head of the South African Police Services (SAPS) confirmed that they had identified 12 persons of interest, and that five had been arrested so far.

The majority of the people detained in connection with the arson attempts are allegedly truck drivers themselves, and so there is a concern that there will be retaliation from other drivers in the industry, said National Police Commissioner Fannie Masemola.

One of the suspects arrested in Limpopo was found with an unlicensed firearm in their possession.


In an interview on 702, Deputy National Commissioner of Crime Detection Shadrack Sibiya said that the truck burnings were the result of disgruntled labourers who are angry at the supposed employment of foreigners in their industry.

Gareth Newham, the head of Justice and Violence Prevention at the Institute for Security Studies, said he does not believe it is as simple as that.

“I don’t think that people would be burning trucks and causing massive disruptions to our supply lines, our economy, putting thousands of South African jobs at risk because there are some non-South African people driving trucks in South Africa,” he said.

He believes the idea has possibly been used to distract and garner public opinion, given the high levels of xenophobia that already exist in the country.

Newham explained that there has been a significant increase in organised crime in the last half-decade since the end of state capture, and that attacks on the country’s transport sector, including its trucks and railways, have been going on for years.

There has been speculation from multiple stakeholders that the truck attacks, much like the sabotage at Eskom, are part of an entrenched movement to destabilize South Africa’s economy and allow for illegal activities to take place.

Economic terrorism

More than 20 trucks have been set alight in South Africa in July, with most of the attacks occurring on major freight corridors such as the N1, N3, and N4.

While some of the drivers who were operating the vehicles at the time of the attacks were robbed by the armed hijackers, the actual trucks were set on fire with their cargo, indicating that the hold-ups were not for financial gain but rather to send a message.

This is further evidenced by the fact that the burning trucks were positioned in such a way as to block as much of the road as possible and cause widespread disruptions to other road users.

Subsequently, the Democratic Alliance opened a case against the attackers in terms of the Protection of Constitutional Democracy against Terrorist and Related Activities Act (POCDATARA Act), while labeling those responsible as “economic terrorists.”

Gavin Kelly, the CEO of the Road Freight Agency (RFA), said that the violence threatens the value chain for 80% of all the goods sold in South Africa, resulting in the loss of hundreds of millions of rands for businesses.

He also said that the burnings have cost South Africa its “gateway to Africa” status, as international companies are starting to move their freight to more stable ports of entry in neighbouring countries.

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